“Your Kids Need to Hear Joy in the Lifestyle You’ve Chosen.”

"Your kids need to hear joy in the lifestyle you've chosen."

That’s advice I heard last weekend at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention.

It was a well-timed trip, because my own homeschooling days haven’t been so joyous of late. In fact, I’ve been feeling sort of burnt out on the whole homeschooling thing.

We’re currently wrapping up our second year of educating our kids at home, and it’s going pretty well. There’s a lot to love about homeschooling.

The problem is that I’ve recently been keenly aware of homeschooling’s opportunity cost: I’m personally giving up a lot in order to homeschool my kids. I’ve been wondering if it’s worth it.

You see, I have a lot of balls in the air: I work part time. I write on the side. I’m a dreamer and schemer and there is so much I’d like to do, and so little time to do it in. Because I want to devote more time to the things I’m passionate about, it’s too easy for me to view my kids as obstacles blocking my path, instead of as…my kids.

I’d already decided that our reasons for homeschooling were solid, and that I wanted to continue home educating our children next year. But I still felt like I was giving up so much for my kids’ sake. Maybe too much. I wasn’t happy about the amount of time my decision to homeschool left me to pursue my own interests.

That’s why I was so interested to hit the conference, and hear from two women I admire who are managing to homeschool while successfully pursuing their own interests.

I’m enormously hopeful after this weekend: I can see a path back to finding the joy of homeschooling for my family.Β  I’m looking forward to sharing some of the lessons I’m learning this week on the blog.

Have you ever lost your joy in a venture? How did you get it back?


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  1. Sarah Beals says:

    Anne, I can totally relate with how you feel. I have so many interests, and am very easily discouraged by the thoughts of what “could have been.”

    I am so glad you went to the conference. It is a hard pill to swallow, putting aside your own dreams and desires. But, a man does the same thing when he punches a clock for his family. I used to believe that my husband was the one fulfilling his dream, and I was “stuck at home with the kids.” Of course, you know about my journey to choosing joy. AND, you don’t have to put aside all of your dreams. You can still grow and pursue what you love…just not at the rate you would of sans kids.
    Enjoy the rest of your school year. Next beautiful day we are taking our books to the beach. πŸ™‚

  2. Aubry Smith says:

    Really looking forward to reading what you’re learning. I have no idea how you homeschool on top of all your writing and everything else moms do. We will probably be in a situation where we’ll need to homeschool overseas (heading to a Muslim culture), and I’m already so nervous about it. My oldest isn’t even three.

  3. Virginia says:

    You’re a few years ahead of me as I will be homeschooling my kids when everyone else’s will be in school. I’m glad you are sharing all of your encouragements and doubts with us! I often wonder about these things!

  4. Kate says:

    Here’s my story: I’m a homeschooling mom of five, and this is our thirteenth year of homeschooling. Over those thirteen years, I gave birth twice (and was on bed rest both times); completed my associate’s degree in nursing and my bachelor of liberal studies degree with a concentration in technical writing and editing; worked full- and part-time, sometimes concurrently with college; and moved twice. For the last three years I’ve been the president of the board of our local children’s theatre, and last year I started my own freelance copy editing and writing business. On the side, I officiate marriages.

    My kids are 21, 19, 12, 11, and 9.

    Of all the stuff I’ve done, the children, the bachelor’s degree, and the freelance businesses were my interests. Everything else was sheer necessity. So yes, I can relate.

    One of the best suggestions I ever read was in the book Creating a Charmed Life by Victoria Moran. She suggests living your life in chapters. Right now, you’re in the “young kids and homeschooling” chapter. In a few years it may be the “slightly more self-sufficient kids, still homeschooling, and doing more of your own projects” chapter.

    Another thing that sometimes helps is to remember the adage, “Busy People Get More Done.”

    On a more practical note, my kids and I have now accepted that at some point every year, I will declare myself done with homeschooling. Forever. We all know that this will pass, just as my yearly “we haven’t done enough, let’s cram a year’s worth of geography into this week!” moment will pass πŸ™‚

    Also, I find that when I vary our homeschooling, we all get less burnt out. We rotate through Charlotte Mason, child-led learning, and what I think of as Homeschooling Lite.

    For years, the Homeschooling Lite phase was a guilt inducer for me, as I felt like I should be right there in the trenches every minute. What finally stopped the guilt, I’m sad to say, was external validation (warning: bragging follows).

    My oldest scored a 25 on the English portion of the ACT at 15. My second-oldest started college full-time at 16 (and made the Dean’s List last semester!). We did some testing, and the younger ones’ reading level was 11th and 10th grade, respectively, when they were 10 and 8. Even something as little as a stranger’s comment about my children’s speaking ability gets filed away for future guilt prevention.

    I also have to say that I don’t necessarily agree with the advice about joy. I think that it’s okay for our kids to hear something more like, I truly believe that this is the best choice for our family right now, and I love you, so I’m making the best choice. And sometimes the best choice is hard, and it’s absolutely okay to choose the hard choice if it’s what you truly believe in.

    Just my two cents πŸ™‚

    • Carrie says:

      @Kate: Can I be you when I grow up? Hah! Seriously, I love everything you said. β€œBusy People Get More Done.” is one of my favorite sayings. I also like, “If you want something done, ask a busy person”.

      @Anne: When it comes to homeschooling and opportunity cost, this is something I’ve given quite a bit of thought to as well. Incidentally I am not homeschooling because I believe it’s the “best” education I can give my kids (what is that, exactly, and has anyone figured out what it is?). I homeschool because I want to pass along my values to my children and I figure I have to be around them a lot to do so effectively. And, I love being with them most of the time.

      Keeping that firmly in mind helps. It also helps that we keep a relaxed homeschool style too, and school year round (unless I’m expecting a new baby in the summer, then I take that summer off). Choosing curriculum that doesn’t require much teacher prep work (unit studies? NO thanks!) also helps.

      Another thing? I believe that in our current world and economic system, it’s ever more important for a person to find their passion/calling in order to make a living. I think the best way for a child to discover that is to find out what they love and are good at, and they need lots of time to do so. Homeschooling, I believe, makes that easier to do. Since there’s no way I can send them all to college, it’s imperative that they find that passion as young adults so they can tailor their life experiences, early jobs and supplemental education in that direction.

      I’ve been feeling a little bit of burnout on the homeschool front lately too, mostly because I have one child whose learning style is so different from my own and that of his siblings. It takes a lot of trust and prayer! I also have to level with him sometimes and tell him how his behavior is making me feel. Dropping things that don’t work and changing things up keeps it interesting.

      • Anne says:

        Carrie, I just love the emphasis on finding your passion. Something I particularly like about homeschooling is that it gives kids the opportunity to specialize in an area they’re passionate about while they’re still young, but I’ve heard very few people articulate this point. Thanks for mentioning it here!

    • Anne says:

      Kate, what a great story! And you’ve foreseen very well where I’m headed this week. It’s hugely encouraging to me to hear from women who’ve made it successfully through the “young kids and homeschooling” phase and moved on to the “my kids are getting older and turning out wonderfully well” phase.

      Thanks so much for your input. I especially like the bit about your guilt-free version of “homeschooling lite.” We have definitely put that learning style into the mix at my house πŸ™‚

  5. There have been times (usually after having a baby) that I have lost the joy of parenting period! But a little perspective goes a long way. Remember that this is a season. Remember that you get to decide when to have “school holidays” and take a break. Remember that summer is right around the corner and you can choose a summer break. And remember to just get away on a regular basis. Nothing does better for me is to once a week to just go out and do something away from my kids. Hey, if you worked at an office you would have every evening and every weekend off, so why not give yourself a little time off from homeschooling and nurture your own passions?

    • Anne says:

      Keya, I always feel so much better after I’ve had a little time away to regroup and reframe! Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Marianna says:

      That’s so funny because for Afterschoolers like us it’s the opposite. I keep things mellow when my son is in school full time, but now that he’s going to be home for Christmas break I’ve got a ton of plans in store for him! I have to be sneaky though, and keep everything fun and vacation like .

  6. I’m really looking forward to your future posts on this topic. My children are so young, I have to keep reminding myself that some things will get easier eventually (and some things will be harder, I’m sure, but right now I’ve still got a nursing baby who will not take a bottle, so it’s extra difficult to get any real time alone to regroup).

  7. As you know, I don’t have any kids as yet, but your words were pretty powerful. I do want to get back some joy in my life and not be worried and stressed always. Thanks for reminding me to think about the things that are truly important instead of focusing on the negatives.

  8. Terra says:

    Hello Anne,

    Came to your site through MDA. Wow, I so needed to hear about other mother’s who sometimes feel the same way. I had a breakdown last night about all the things I have to do in a day with home-schooling, going to University full time, housework, child-rearing, cooking for multiple special diets, extra curricular activites for kids and family. I feel like I am entering that bitter/resentful mode and I don’t want to feel that way about my choices.

    For me, it is the guilt: guilt that I am not doing enough for the kids, guilt that we do not accomplish all I think we should, guilt that I can’t provide more special opportunites like vacations or other paid lessons because those extras go to pay my university tuition, guilt that sometimes instead of school I wish we could all just stay in our rooms for a day of quiet. These are my issues and I acknowledge that this guilt comes from my own unrealistic expectations of myself. I find that I have more guilt and resentment when I am not getting much “free time”.

    I sometimes think that other homeschooling mothers “just have it all together” and that I am the only one with doubts and conflicting emotions. So many of the homes-schooling type blogs I read it all just seems rainbows and butterflies (although I logically know it is not always that way for their families). It is so nice to hear a mother come out and voice her doubts to the public. I think it helps validate the feelings of those of us who are struggling at this moment, which in turn helps alleviate some of that horrible mother’s guilt!

    • Anne says:


      It DOES seem like other people’s lives are full of “rainbows and butterflies” based on the heavily edited lives so many of us present on the internet! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s living a REAL life and not one that’s filled with unicorns and shooting stars.

      I do hope one small tale of what things are *really* like for this mum will provide some encouragement and help us all ditch the guilt!

      Thanks for visiting and for sharing your experience. I appreciate it so much πŸ™‚

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